Wednesday, February 09, 2011


From the age of about seven or eight to fifteen, I loved - loved - the Redwall series of books by Brian Jacques. I had the first thirteen of the series and compusively read and re-read them: my favourites were Redwall, Mossflower, Mattimeo, Mariel of Redwall, The Bellmaker, Outcast of Redwall, The Pearls of Lutra and The Long Patrol (man, that's eight out of thirteen, I can't decide which is the best! Maybe Bellmaker or Lutra. Or Outcast. Or...).

Anyway, they were wonderful. The first books I'd come across to really emphasise descriptions of places and things, they left mental images in my mind's eye so strong I can still recall them now. They were also the first place I came across several types of animals - polecats, pine martens, and most memorably, the shrike in Bellmaker (named Glokkjaw or something like that?), which I presumed was an animal Jacques had made up until I found it in a bird book several years later.

I re-read the books a few years ago, and they didn't quite stand up to an adult's eye - repetitive, predictable and with some slightly uncomfortable undertones that you could potentially read as mild racism, although I don't think that was intentional - but I'll always have a lot of love for the series as a key point in my reading history. And in fact I'm considering getting a couple of them for my niece to see what she thinks in a year or two.

As such, it's sad to hear of Jacques' death, and the fact that the forthcoming twenty-second novel in the series will abruptly be the last. R.I.P. Brian Jacques, and thank you for many, many, many happy hours of reading.